All posts filed under: Illustration

George Hardie retrospective. Brighton Uni’, 11 March – 7 April 2017

Above: One of George Hardie’s earliest designs/illustrations produced when he was still a student at the Royal College of Art Notebook: 19 March | ILLUSTRATION | ILLUSTRATION HEROES As a student in the late 1970s, I became fascinated by the work of the graphic artist George Hardie. I collected tear-sheets of his work, wrote essays about him and even managed to wangle a visit to his studio in Covent Garden. I still love his hard-edged, ideas-based illustrations with their hidden twists. Hardie is a prolific artist and designer and a retrospective exhibition of his work entitled 50 Odd Years is currently showing at the University of Brighton (11 March – 7 April, 2017). The exhibition spans three rooms and is packed full of his work from across the decades – from his early album sleeve designs and drawings for rock bands such as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Genesis and Pink Floyd, through to later work such as his ‘Magic’ stamps for the Royal Mail in 2005. It’s a fascinating collection and if you’re going to visit, give yourself lots of time to digest all the goodies on display. Unfortunately there …

Illustrator Melvyn Evans

Notebook: 15 January 2017 | ILLUSTRATION One of my favourite illustrator/artists is Melvyn Evans. He works with a variety of media, from traditional linocuts through to digital illustration using Adobe Illustrator, to produce a range of beautiful artwork much of which is inspired by the British landscape. What all Melvyn’s work has in common is his exquisite use of colour – sometimes solemn grey/brown tones such as the linocut Le Morte d’Arthur (based on tales of King Arthur, exhibited at RA summer show in 2014 and shown below), or brighter jewel-like colours that glow warmly against their earthy coloured neighbours as in The Wisdom for Hen Keepers (top) or Melvyn’s London scene (below). Some time ago I commissioned Melvyn to produce a map for a travel feature on Western Sweden for Saab magazine. His charming style, with echoes of 1950s children’s book illustration, reflected the mood of the article. (below) And more recently Melvyn produced an illustration for me – contrasting clickbait content with long form content – for a brochure for the content marketing agency Orwell. (Orwell [of whom I am a partner] provide influential content for intelligent organisations …

The Vanity of Small Differences

Pictured above: The artist Grayson Perry in front of one of his six tapestries that make up the series ‘The Vanity of Small Differences’ Notebook: 1 August 2016 | ART | ILLUSTRATION In 1962 my father changed jobs and we moved from our 1920s semi in Staffordshire to a light and modern detached house on a small estate on the outskirts of the prosperous market town of Newbury in Berkshire. The removal van was packed with all our possessions and we stuffed ourselves into Dad’s small blue Ford Popular and leaving the Midlands behind, set forth to begin our new life in the sunny south. The brand new house had central heating and was open plan with large picture windows. The light flooded in despite the heavy old curtains, carpets and dark furniture that had come with us from the old house. My mother loved the modern kitchen and she took a part time job at the hospital which helped fund the purchase of our first washing machine. Dad’s teaching job was supplemented by weekend work …

35 from 35: Part one

Notebook: 9 March 2016 | ILLUSTRATION 35 from 35. Part one: 10 commissioned illustrations from the 1980s Good editorial design is about more than just making a page look pretty – it’s about working with words and pictures to help tell a story or communicate a message. Those pictures might be photos, an illustration or an infographic and they will either be pictures that already exist and are sourced from a picture library for example, or they may be pictures that only exist in the designer’s mind and still have to be created from scratch by commissioning a photographer or illustrator. The artist will be carefully briefed and some time later (an hour, a day, a week) they will supply the designer with their picture. This is the moment of truth for the designer: hopefully they will have commissioned well, they’ll like what they’ve been sent and they’ll get a real buzz from the artwork and they’ll know how well it will help tell the story and how good it will make the page look. I’ve been an editorial designer …

Stickyscapes

Notebook: 21 January 2016 | ILLUSTRATION The publisher Laurence King produce some very nice books on art and design and some great children’s publications including their Stickyscapes series – more on those in a moment. First, does anybody remember Waddingtons’ Panoramas? They were popular with children in the late 60s/early 70s, cost 6/11 in old money (about 35p) and consisted of a long sheet of card that was printed on one side with a beautifully drawn panorama that might have been a Wild West landscape or an underwater scene or some other environment. They came with sheets of Letraset pictures – cowboys, fish or whatever – that the user would then rub down on to the panoramic background in their chosen place, to slowly build up their completed picture. They were designed by a company called Patrick Tilley Associates. I loved Panoramas and I can remember spending my pocket money on the five that were in the original series and that are shown below. You can read more about them here. (In the early 60s Patrick Tilley had also designed the charming Busy …

Remembering Peter Sullivan

Notebook 17 January 2016 | NEWSPAPERS | INFOGRAPHICS I’ve been helping with some teaching on the excellent Design for Publishing course at Norwich University of the Arts (NUA). The students have been set a project by Gordon Beckett, the Design Editor of The Sunday Times, that requires them to redesign pages of The Sunday Times print and digital editions. It’s made me think back to those glory years of The Sunday Times in the late 60s, 70s and 80s when the paper (and magazine) was renowned for its investigative journalism, great photography and strong design, under the editorship of Harold Evans. A highlight for me each week were the brilliant infographics drawn by the illustrator and graphic designer, Peter Sullivan. His drawings would explain the sequence of events in a major news story and would really help to bring that story to life – such as how the passengers and crew were rescued from the Zeebrugge ferry disaster in 1987 (above) and how the Chilean president Augusto Pinochet survived an ambush and assassination attempt in 1986 (below). Peter Sullivan died in 1996. You …

Illustrator Nick Shepherd

Notebook: 7 January 2015 | ILLUSTRATION If an editorial designer has great images to work with then sometimes it’s best if the finished layout is very simple so that the pictures (and words) do all the talking. Such is the case with these bold and vibrant illustrations by Nick Shepherd that were recently commissioned by Lynsey Irvine for The Observer newspaper’s Food Monthly magazine. Nick is one of my current favourite illustrators and his fun and colourful style goes well with the feature The best thing I ate all year – a gastronomic ‘best of’ list by top chefs and food writers that appeared in the Food Monthly Christmas issue. Nick is from Yorkshire but currently works out of Lisbon. He specialises in conceptual pieces and is good at thinking up jaunty humorous visual metaphors for editorials. Here’s a fun illustration that Nick produced for a feature about teamwork across a large organisation. It was commissioned by myself and designer Deb Murray for a business magazine for the global recruitment company Odgers Berndtson. You can see more of Nick Shepherd’s work on his website here and here’s a link to the online version …

Ikon stock illustration

Notebook 21 December 2015 | ILLUSTRATION The best stock illustration agency that I’ve come across is Ikon Images who’ve been around now for a couple of years. As their blurb says, “Ikon is London’s newest and most exciting specialist source of stock illustration. Working with a select group of today’s most sought after artists Ikon is committed to delivering you the very best in contemporary illustration.” They have some brilliant and renowned illustrator’s on their books including some of my favourites such as Grundini (above, and below in descending order), Adam Howling, Ian Whadcock, Nick Shepherd, Otto Detmer, and Andrew Baker. Of course, it’s always better to commission original illustration, but if budgets and deadlines leave you struggling then Ikon is a great resource to turn to.

Hearty illustration

Notebook: 18 November 2015 | ILLUSTRATION One of the best illustration agencies is Heart. They were formed over 10 years ago out of a studio collective of artists and illustrators and they are managed and run by practicing artists. They have some fantastic illustrators on their books and they are one of the first agencies that I like to turn to when I’m commissioning bespoke illustration. Two of their artists – Adam Simpson and Aude Van Ryn have recently produced charming illustrations for the This is… series of art books by the publisher Laurence King. Simpson worked on This is Kandinsky (sample spread shown below) and Van Ryn on This is Monet (shown above) and their illustrations help bring these artists’s lives and paintings to life in an innovative and very engaging manner. They are beautiful books with chunky hard back covers and the artwork is printed on a tasteful and sweet smelling, matt stock. (They’d make great Christmas presents for any one interested in art and you can see the full range in the Laurence King series here). I’ve …

Bridie Cheeseman 2

Notebook: 15 October 2015 | ILLUSTRATION I’m a big fan of the illustrator Bridie Cheeseman’s work. I like her naïve style and sometimes slightly mysterious subject matter – she appears to capture a moment in a story such as the bearded man making a hurried exit in the painting above. Has he just been reading to the two children and why is he now rushing off? And who is the child whose presence is only shown by legs in spotty tights? In another illustration called ‘Late summer drive’ a car passes along a street as a cat and dog look on. Meanwhile a man mows his lawn and a girl appears to be exercising through an open window. Three burning candles in another window and a strange landscape (England, USA?) in the distance all add to the sense of intrigue and mystery. Bridie has a great feeling for colour and composition and one of my favourite paintings is her ‘Elephant entering a sock shop’. There’s a real sense of depth and closer study reveals an odd assortment of characters wearing …